How to become an angel

Wednesday, 02. February 2022

Angel in modern poetry Broken wings

Christmas angels made of plaster or wood are often kitschy. From the point of view of those biblical authors who tried to put the Christmas event into words, angels are rather disturbing and irritating. Also contemporary poets see it in such a way, if they those "Flatterwesen" explore.

By Burkhard Reinartz | 25.12.2021

The religion magazine at 9:35 a.m. Mondays to Fridays: this program is unique in the German radio landscape. All religions and denominations appear here. This includes criticism of religion and religionlessness. "Day by day" bumps into. Whoever "day after day is curious about all phenomena from religion and society – even if they are annoying.

A cemetery angel at the Melaten Cemetery in Cologne, Germany

The angel in you
rejoices over your
crying over your darkness

from his wings
Words of love
Poems Caresses
He guards your way

Steer your step

Rose foreigner

You meet him sometimes
in the stairwell,
but it could also have been a breeze

and you are at the beginning
like him

Cyrus Atabay

Johann Hinrich Claussen, Cultural Commissioner of the EKD - Berlin February 2016

Angels – a human issue

Mind and body

God, the Creator of all things visible and invisible, spiritual and physical, in His almighty power created from nothing at the same time both creations, spiritual and physical, namely that of the angels and that of the world: and after that the human, which in a sense consists of spirit and body at the same time.

For he hath commanded his angels above thee, that they should keep thee in all thy ways, that they should bear thee up in their hands, and that thou shouldest not strike thy foot against a stone.

"There is also something shattering about it"

"The wind blows the trombone"

In the snow shirt
falling fleeing angels
from the clouds

We swim
in the stream of her broken wings
Ice tears
on the eyelashes

The wind
blow the trombone

Rose Foreigner

"A farewell that is good for both"

I did not let go of my angel for a long time,
and he impoverished me in his arms
and became small, and I became great:
and suddenly I was the pity
And he a trembling plea bare.

So I gave him his heaven –
and he left me the close, from it he disappeared,
he learned to float, I learned to live,
and we slowly recognized each other.

Since my angel no longer guards me,
he can freely unfold his wings
and to split the silence of the stars, –
because he must be my lonely night
no longer hold the fearful hands –
since my angel no longer guards me.

Rainer Maria Rilke

More on the subject

Against the "automated secularism"

A real angel
an angel of light
had you finally
can send again.

One could think that you now to the atheistic association miseries
the super machines and super robots
the grazed pastures of the earth
would leave for good.

The poor praying
should finally once
can draw breath again.

Hans Arp

"do not kill me with your glistening"

O great black Russian angel,
take me protectively under your wings,
the brushwood combs from below
and the lighting of the stoves,
that I kneel down on
burnt out pieces of coal,
Should ever a fringe
from your wings remain

o little dark angel,
neither heavenly nor human,
Angel multicolored translucent
formless and multiform, equal
and unequally in the fast weather glow
Of your incomprehensible fabulation.

o black angel, unveil yourself,
but do not kill me with your glow,
do not part the mist that shrouded you in glory,
in my thoughts imprint you.

Eugenio Montale

"In Eugenio Montale’s angel poem, one sees wonderfully how even the modern, the broken, the small, the diminutive angel is still full of tension. Well, on the one hand it’s adorable how he turns the bright, blond curly angel, as we often know him from advertising, into a black, sooty angel, whose wings no longer rustle along so powerfully, but are puny and broken and at the same time:

Also in this angel a basic tension of religious experience at all shows up. The great religious phenomenologist Rudolf Otto has described that every experience of faith, every religious experience consists of two elements: the fascinating, that is, what attracts us, what comforts us, what builds us up, what helps us, what protects us – but also the tremendum, the shattering, the frightening.

I find this so wonderfully formulated by Montale at the end of his poem, that even the small angel, the one who has become fragile, is still full of power to shake us too."

Fear and hatred

You cheerful angel, do you know fear?,
The shame, remorse, sobbing, longing,
And nights that stretch horribly,
where you fear in your heart as if crushed?
You serene angel, do you know the fear?

You good angel, do you know hatred??
The tears of bile, fists that clench,
When loudly the drum of revenge resounds in hell,
To grasp our powers imperiously?
You good angel, do you know the hating?

Charles Baudelaire

"It is almost funny that Charles Baudelaire, the demonic of all demonic poets also wrote an angel poem. And what is striking here is that the angel is for him, so to speak, the target of our feelings and indeed all our feelings, so not only the beautiful, pious, edifying feelings, which are Christianly approved, the virtue feelings, but all feelings, from shame, remorse to hatred.

That’s great, of course, because of course you’re used to, by a conventional belief, so to speak, that the good angel certainly doesn’t know the hating. But why not actually? Because if in the religious, in the religious orientation it is about that our whole human being with all his feeling possibilities somehow finds an expression?

It is a question with him, insofar it remains open. But this question is totally important, because of course often in the contemplation of angels or of religion our dirty feelings, our bad feelings are politely covered up."

The sky above Berlin

Guardian angels: Bruno Ganz (l) as Damiel and Otto Sander as Cassiel in a scene of the film'Der Himmel uber Berlin' aus dem Jahr 1987.

"Sometimes my eternal existence as a spirit becomes too much for me.
I don’t want to hover over it forever then.
to feel a weight on me,
that lifts the boundlessness on me
and make me earthbound."

From: The sky over Berlin

When men began to multiply over the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw how beautiful the daughters of men were, and they took wives from them as they pleased.

Old Testament

"Do not say it is not true"

Blue cold as stone on which the angels sharpen their wings
sublime and very removed from this earth
stepping on shoots of glory and over the shreds
of the shadow
they gradually sink into the dreamed sky
but they come out even paler after a while
beyond the sky beyond the gaze

Do not say it is not true that the angels do not exist
immersed in the sluggish pond of the body you
you see everything in the hue of your eyes
and full of the world at the barrier of the eyelashes

Zbigniew Herbert

A religious glow

As I looked up from my blank page,
the angel stood in the room.
A very mean angel,
probably lowest batch.
You cannot imagine,
he said how dispensable you are.
A single one among fifteen thousand shades
the color blue, he said,
falls more into the weight of the world
than anything you do or don’t do,
not to speak of the feldspar
and from the Large Magellanic Cloud.
Even the common frogspoon, inconspicuous as it is,
leave a gap, you do not.
I saw it in his bright eyes, he hoped
on contradiction, on a long struggle.
I did not move. I waited,
until he was gone, silent.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger

"Enzensberger is indeed a master of irony, also of laconicism. He loves to make the big charged slogans of any ideologies or religions first nicely small. And for this purpose, funnily enough, he also makes use of poems.

That’s why they’re so easy to understand, because first they aim to cool down, and then an angel like this comes in. And it’s not really impressive, lowest batch and somehow nothing really happens. Except, of course, that it does trigger a feeling of humility, perhaps even almost of humiliation, to the one who sits there in front of his blank page and somehow can’t really get ahead as a poet either.

And then, and that’s the beauty of some of Enzensberger’s poems, which seem so cool and laconic at first, there comes a religious glow after all. But it does not become a loud, big fire, it also disappears again. He just stays still, does not move, waits. And then the angel just disappears again. Has the author of this poem, his lyrical I, changed, or was it just a casual moment, a hunch?? That remains open here."

"We humans are the angels of this earth"

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"Strange angels: singing only for me"

They say heaven is like
Television: a perfect little world,
which you don’t really need.
And everything in it consists of light.
And this is how the days go by.
Here they come:

Strange angels: singing just for me.
Old stories, they haunt me.
Nothing is as I imagined.

It was one of those days, bigger than life
when your angel friends came for dinner
And stayed overnight.
Then they cleaned out the refrigerator and ate it all up,
went through in the living room and cried the whole night.

Strange angels, singing only for me.
Old stories, they haunt me.
Nothing is as I imagined.

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